by Stephanie Ciecierski July 26, 2022 10 min read

Coastal Casual Style Guide

Salt lingering in the air. Waves lapping the shore. Toes digging in cool sand. This is pure bliss for people who love the beach. Sea spray is their perfume and sand an accessory which makes them perfect candidates for the Coastal Casual Style. As laid-back people, they ride the waves of life and greet the ebbs and flows with open arms. Most importantly, they love other people who love the beach! They happily welcome guests into their home for a weekend of volleyball, surfing, and seashell collecting. If you’re fishing for some Coastal Casual styling tips, read on and you’ll be shore to find some! 


a. What Is Coastal Casual?

b. How to Coastal Casual Your Home

i. Start With Design Elements

1. What Colors to Use

2. What Textures to Use

3. What Patterns to Use

ii. Assessing The Room

1. Floors

2. Walls

3. Ceilings

4. Windows

iii. Furnishing The Room

1. Furniture

2. Decorations

3. Lighting

c. Get a Coastal Casual Rug for Your Room

What is Coastal Casual?

There is an ocean of possibilities for Coastal Casual. It is filled with pastels, bright whites, and sandy accents. Imagine a bright white room filled with navy blue knick knacks and sand colored furniture. Coastal Casual is full of clean and open space making it quaint and welcoming. Coastal Casual styled spaces aren’t shellfish and make guests feel right at home.

Coastal Casual is inspired by the beach, but it doesn’t demand that it looks like a beach house. If the “Sandy Hair, Don’t Care” kinds of signs are a little too loud, focus more on the colors and textures to bring out the shore feeling. Best of all, being at the beach is not a requirement for making a home look and feel like a relaxing beach getaway. All it takes is a little imagination and plenty of seashells!

How to Coastal Casual Your Home

Start with Design Elements

Coastal Casual is meant for anyone who loves the beach or the relaxing feeling of the shore. The only requirement is going with the flow and working with what the space provides. From a quaint seaside cottage to an apartment in the city, Coastal Casual will bring a warm, salty breeze to any space. 



What colors to use

Imagine: Walking into this home in Virginia Beach feels like a breath of fresh air. The walls are a pale sky blue, the living room furniture a creamy white with gray driftwood accents. Light streams in from the front window and onto the many colored seashells on the white coffee table. The kitchen’s backsplash is tiled with many shades of blue, the cabinetry all white. 

Coastal Casual paints with the palette of the shore with blues, whites, and grays at the forefront. For a home reminiscent of the Atlantic Ocean, there are shades of teal, from pastel to dark, that are perfect for capturing the northern shorelines. Use creamy whites to reflect the sand and greens like the dune grass. In a Pacific Ocean home, try deep blues contrasted with clear whites and accented with gray driftwoods. For a more tropical vibe, use some light pinks, bright whites, and sky blues. Consider using the greens of palm trees to help bring the colors together.

What textures to use

The feeling of the sand, the salty texture on the skin, and feet crunching up seashells are all memorable parts of being at the beach. Coastal Casual uses all of these touchable surfaces to its advantage and begs to be felt. Sand is a great material to use for DIY projects. Add it to a picture frame with some seashells, so when someone picks it up, the many textures will surprise them. Accent a piece of furniture using sand and seal it for a unique thing to fidget with.

Seashells alone are another great texture. Find some really beautiful ones and place them around the space. A conch is an excellent interactive shell; put it to your ear and hear the ocean! The smooth cool texture with its funky ridges make for a fun sensory experience.

For other textures around the space, try a rough woven jute, woven beach blankets, and light linens. Sea glass is a beautiful addition in color and in texture as well. Try a mobile made out of sea glass that will both catch the light and encourage guests to reach out and feel. Having a variety of textures from rough to smooth to soft holds interest and makes everyone involved feel the seaside home they’ve entered into.

What patterns to use

Picture this: The dining room in this Maine home features an accent wall with navy blue and white stripes. The rug under the dining room table is various shades of white all mixed together in artsy splotches. The dining room table runner is white with a blue lobster pattern on it. It’s eclectic and welcoming and the bright white wooden paneled walls around the accent wall help reflect the light from the windows.

The Coastal Casual style can use many flamboyant patterns or keep it a little more sophisticated. Many coastal wallpapers sport adventurous patterns – swirling oceans, electrifying jellyfish, or orange seahorses. Otherwise, an embossed wallpaper, like a cream or a light blue linen is more relaxed and will provide additional texture. 

Patterns for pillows and blankets tend toward navy or black designs on white covers and can be the bold accent piece the room is looking for. Try a navy blue throw pillow with white anchor patterns or a white Moroccan style pattern. If plain pillows are the preference, then use these patterns on the curtains instead. In terms of rugs, there's a wide variety of patterns to use from watercolor, like the one below, to patterns that look like waves. Use a jute rug for the scratchy texture and for the organic woven pattern. 



Assessing the Room

Any room can become Coastal Casual with a little mussel be it brain or brawn! Whether the space needs a lot of work or just a little work, Coastal Casual will clear out the room and invite in the light. Without having to shell out a lot of money, it’s easy to open up the room with some simple changes and by adding some small accents to bring it all together.


The hip new trend for new homes or home renovations is light gray wood flooring, which is perfect for a Coastal Casual home. The gray is similar to that of driftwood that washes up on shore, drained of the fresh brown color it once had. Adding a sandy colored or jute rug to the floor would turn this chic and trendy flooring into a Coastal Casual dream.

For a Coastal Casual bathroom, try a dark blue tile with bright white grout. If dark blue tile is a little too bold, try a white tile with some navy blue rugs. If there isn’t money for tiling the bathroom, try a peel-n-stick tiling pattern in the meantime. There are high traffic ones available, so the water from the shower or tub won’t ruin it.

If there is a budget for new flooring, using a Pergo flooring is a great way to ensure that all that sand, salt, and ocean water doesn’t ruin the floors. Plus, there’s so many colors: sandy browns, bright whites, grays, and blacks. Pergo floorings also come in many patterns with wood knots and without so it can be tailored to the taste of the home.


Coastal Casual walls can really vary. Those patterned wallpapers and many shades of blue previously mentioned are a great way to add a fun beach-y feeling to a space. Many people choose to go with a cream or white wall and white moldings with colorful shore decor. For this kind of idea, but with a little pizzazz, add white shiplap to the walls. Not only will it look like the inside of a ship, but it can also hide any issues with the walls. 

A fishing net is both a perfect way to solidify the ocean theme and a unique way to display pictures. Grab some clothespins to pin up some favorite snapshots from the shore and glue some seashells to it to really drive it home. An added bonus is that this wall piece isn’t permanent! Changing out the pictures every once in a while will freshen up the space and personalize it further.

This can also be the shining moment for any beach related signage to go up on the wall. Get those arrows pointing the direction of the beach, worn wooden “Beach House” signs, and “Goin’ Costal” signs up on the walls. Take some pictures of beach horizons and get canvas prints for the walls as well. There’s a school of options to choose from for Coastal Casual walls.


This apartment in Philadelphia looks just like a shore house in Brigantine, NJ. Aside from the wonderful wall decor and a navy blue shag rug, the ceiling is particularly unique. Shiplap boards horizontally line the ceiling and white beams run across vertically. Along with the recessed lighting, there’s a large bronze chandelier that hangs over the dining room table. It’s as if the apartment has been transported to a beach location, complete with seashell decor.

Neglecting the ceiling is a mistake that a lot of people will make when renovating their spaces. For Coastal Casual, giving the room a fresh coating of bright white paint will make the room feel more spacious and welcoming. A fresh coat of paint is especially important for any room with a popcorn ceiling. Paint it white to keep it subtle or try a beige to make it seem sandy. Add white shiplap or another kind of wood for a quaint ship cabin style to hide that popcorn ceiling all together.

Exposed wooden beams are a great way to accent the room as well. Add dark brown beams and an iron candle chandelier for a pirate ship vibe. White beams will keep the room open and spacious. To get even more creative, try finding a coral chandelier in red as a bold accent piece to the room. It’s a great addition to any dining room space or kitchen. Be sure to paint the ceiling before hanging this chandelier, as guests will definitely be looking upward!


Bountiful natural light makes Coastal Casual really feel like a vacation. Large picture windows with no obstructions will reflect off of a white wall and brighten up the space. Add white and flowy curtains to bay windows to add a splash of elegance. Imagine opening the window to the ocean breeze and watching the curtains gently blow into the home. They could even be a gauzy light blue for a little zest.

A fun alternative to blinds are indoor window shutters. This gives off a tropical vibe without being too disruptive to the space. Try white for a cottage in the Bahamas or blue for a splash of color. For a more relaxed version of this, use wooden blinds in white.

Try adding a round window with borders that make it look like a porthole. A few round windows that decrease in size can be set up to look like bubbles on the wall. In bedrooms or dining rooms, use window treatments with fun patterns like anchors, crabs, or seahorses. Tie back the curtains with a beige rope for even more nautical fun.


Furnishing the Room

Coastal Casual furnishings is what really pulls the space together. While the floors, ceilings, and walls can all be pretty simple, what goes on and in the room is what can really make the style shine. Much of the decor and a lot of the furniture can be DIY'd with some chalk paint and plenty of imagination. 


Since Coastal Casual is a laid back style, it’s easy to change up the look of the furniture on hand to save some money! Take an old console table and add some DIY flair. Paint it with teal chalk paint, then sand the edges to give it the rustic look. Add hardware that looks like seashells to give it a quaint cottage charm. Want a truly nautical bedroom? Take that chest of drawers, paint it dark blue, and then use a stencil to add white seahorses, shells, or starfish to it. Tablecloths and sofa covers will help hide old furniture behind coastal patterns or solid blues. The best part of using these is that they can be changed out and washed all the time keeping the room fresh and fun.

If there are clams to spend on new furniture, try checking out a “coastal furniture” store or look for furniture restoration companies. These places always have seashore themed furnishings for sale to get the DIY look without the work. If searching in a regular furniture store, be on the hunt for woven furniture, light blue couches, or gray bed frames. Tables with glass tops or woven legs make the island theme feel organic. All of these provide the same kind of look without it being specifically beach furniture.


Decorating with Coastal Casual is the most fun part about the style. Dive into crafting and create one-of-a-kind pieces just for the space. Seashells are always a great crafting tool - getting some wooden letters and gluing seashells to the shape creates great wall decorations. Buy a grapevine wreath and start attaching seashells to that and mount the wreath to the front door.

If the previously mentioned porthole window isn’t something that can come to fruition, use a circular mirror instead. Mirrors help reflect natural light and can be crafted on as well. Add some seashells or a couple of starfish to really personalize it.

If crafting isn’t the vibe, worry not. Nautical throw pillows, blankets, and centerpieces are easy to buy. If the space is mostly bright whites, these decorations come in handy to really liven up the space. In the bathroom, find a shower curtain with ocean themes and then match the soap dispenser, rugs, and other items to it.

Add texture to the room by buying a jute rug or adding candle holders made out of jute or woven grass. Bottle sand from a favorite beach to display in a bottle or start a collection of sand from various beaches visited. A decorative piece that kids will love to touch and feel is a ship wheel, especially if it’s a little weather worn. This could be a wonderful playroom addition; bonus points if it can also spin!


Natural light is always the forerunner for Coastal Casual, but not everyone can have floor to ceiling picture windows. For a space that lacks windows, consider making it a cozy ship cabin instead. Add some festive string lights or twinkle lights to the room to make it feel a little more home-y. Wall sconces that look like torches are a great way to draw the eye away from the ceiling while keeping the light warm and low.

For brighter lighting, consider buying “Bright White” bulbs. These tend to be in the middle of the scale from warm yellow to bright blue lights. They’re the best in bathrooms and kitchens and will reflect the white on the walls and make the room seem bigger. In lower light, consider buying a “Soft White” which will keep things comfortable and relaxing.

Get a Coastal Casual Rug for Your Home

Whale, whale, whale, you’ve made it to the end of the style guide and you’re bubbling with ideas for using Coastal Casual in your home. Armed with a shipful of tips to make your dreams come to life, there’s just one more thing to consider. Now that you’re shore to have an idea of how to style your space in Coastal Casual Style, consider checking out the rug collection curated by The Rug Truck. From simple blues and whites to loud navy patterns, you’ll be sure to catch a great deal!


 All Coastal Casual Rugs